11 May 2020

K&L Gates hires seven-strong restructuring team in Frankfurt

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Frankfurt: German insolvency law is being modernised

Top 50 US firm prepares for significant increase in restructuring work as a result of Covid-19

US law firm K&L Gates has hired a three-partner team of restructuring lawyers in Frankfurt in a major addition to its German practice.

The seven-strong team has made the move from restructuring specialists Bernsau Brockdorff & Partner, where team leader Georg Bernsau was a name partner. The other partners moving across with him are Simone Wernicke and Harald Knittel along with director of restructuring Stefan Zahn. 

The team has more than 25 years’ experience in insolvency, spanning corporate and individual insolvency, administrations and restructuring law.

Bernsau worked with German corporates Closurelogic and Schuhpark Fascies on their successful restructurings via insolvency plans and acted in the insolvencies of Tectum Group, Röder Präzision and Junghans Uhren, the latter two as insolvency administrator.

The hires come admin of an expected wave of insolvency work across Europe as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the firm also pointed to an anticipated increase in demand for insolvency lawyers following recent changes to EU insolvency law, which allow for preventative restructurings.

Equivalent legislation is currently being introduced by the German parliament, with a view to modernising insolvency regulations and supporting distressed businesses impacted by pandemic.

The firm said: “While advising companies and managing directors in crisis and on out-of-court restructuring has already increased significantly in recent years, a further increase in the importance of restructuring advice is expected against the backdrop of the current Covid-19 crisis.”

K&L Gates opened in Frankfurt in 2009 and had built a 75-lawyer platform platform prior to the hires, across offices in Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich.

In March the firm made up three German partners as part of a 41-strong partner round: Berlin-based corporate and M&A partner Andreas Menge and employment partner Nils Neumann Berlin and Munich-based tax partner Michael Kreft, who specialises in domestic and cross-border fund structuring and reorganisations.

Insolvency lawyers will be in high demand in Europe given the damage being inflicted on businesses by the pandemic.

In February, Norton Rose Fulbright hired insolvency partner Regina Rath in Frankfurt from Simmons & Simmons, where she had spent over a decade. And in March Greenberg Traurig hired Baker McKenzie’s global co-head of restructuring and insolvency Ian Jack in London as it prepared for an “unprecedented period of disruption” for law firms and businesses.

Deutsche Bank, meanwhile, last week, named Karen Kuder as its new GC; a compliance expert, Kuder is also member of the EU Insolvency Expert Group, which is advising the EU on further harmonising insolvency law.

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